Boxing: Mayweather, Pacquiao weigh in as frenzy builds

LAS VEGAS - Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, cheered by 10,000 raucous fans, both comfortably made the weight on Friday as global anticipation grew for their welterweight showdown.

The key pre-fight ritual drew a stunning crowd to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where the rivals will clash on Saturday in a fight that has catapulted boxing into the public consciousness in a way that hasn't been seen for decades.

Tickets were sold at US$10 (S$13) apiece and some in attendance paid hundreds on the secondary market just for a chance to glimpse two of the most talented fighters of their generation.

Fans saw their heroes make their way to the stage, where Mayweather weighed in at 146 pounds (66.22kg) - one pound under the 147-pound (66.68kg) welterweight limit.

Pacquiao weighed in at 145 pounds (65.77kg).

A galaxy of A-list celebrities are expected to be at ringside for a bout that has been debated and promoted on US television network chat shows.

Pacquiao's homeland of the Philippines is expected to grind to a halt when the fight airs on Sunday morning (local time) as the impoverished nation of 100 million cheers its "National Fist" in open-air screenings, cinemas, bars and homes.

"The world will stop on Sunday. Everybody is excited," 32-year-old Manila taxi driver Glenn Yago said on Friday.

For many Filipinos, the 36-year-old Pacquiao embodies their hopes of escaping the grinding poverty that affects one in four in the country.

His humble demeanour provides a compelling contrast to the image projected by Mayweather, a brash self-promoter who glories in his status as a money-making machine and trails the clouds of a troubling past that includes jail time for one of several domestic violence incidents.

Pacquiao's good-guy reputation has made him the people's choice among punters in Las Vegas as well.

While Nevada's legal sports books are taking some big wagers on Mayweather, the money coming in from Pacquiao believers have narrowed the odds to about 2-1 in Mayweather's favour.

"We took quite a bit of money (Wednesday), well over seven figures, and 60 per cent of it was to Pacquiao," Jay Rood, vice-president of race and sports books at MGM Resorts International.

"Public opinion is definitely Manny Pacquiao." Boxing opinion is still Mayweather, most likely by 12-round decision.

Mayweather brings a perfect 47-0 record to the bout along with a reputation for defensive skills that will thwart even aggressive southpaw Pacquiao.

"The fight is already won," Floyd Mayweather Sr, Mayweather's father and trainer, said this week.

Mayweather himself, a five-division title-holder, has displayed an uncharacteristic ambivalence as the build-up to the fight unfolded.

"I never wanted to win a fight so bad in my life," he has said, at other times insisting that facing Pacquiao is "just another fight."


However the bout unfolds, it will be more than that, thanks to the labyrinthine negotiations that finally brought about a clash that will smash boxing's previous revenue records.

Old animosities between the fighters' camps and contractual hurdles involving rival telecasters Showtime and HBO have all been overcome, and the payoff will be huge.

Total revenue could reach US$400 million, fuelled by as many as three million pay-per-view purchases and live gate receipts of some US$70 million - all adding up to a possible US$200 million payday for Mayweather and a US$100 million bonanza for Pacquiao.

Tens of thousands will pay about US$150 to watch the fight on closed circuit television at MGM properties around Las Vegas.

The 16,800 crowd at the Grand Garden Arena - where top tickets went for a face value of US$10,000 - will be stuffed with stars of sport and screen and the high-rollers that make casinos hum.

Las Vegas authorities meanwhile warned they could even take the rare step of shutting down the city's famous Strip as they cope with the 150,000 to 200,000 people expected to descend on the desert gambling city.

Deputy Fire chief Erik Newman told AFP authorities were determined to avoid a repeat of the NBA all-star game weekend in 2007, when several people were shot and around 400 arrested.